Not-So-Desperate Housewives

By: Kate Pursell

Put on your shopping shoes and head to Naples, where high-end chain shops mingle with consignment stores and independent boutiques.

On a shopping trip to Naples I met up with some other style mavens in town for their own retail therapy. They called themselves the "Four Desperate Housewives from New York," but they weren't searching for pool boys and illicit afternoons on what could only be described as a picutre-postcard Saturday afternoon in Naples.

They came on a girls' long weekend to find shopping nirvana. And they did, what with a Vera Wang trunk sale, Oprah-endorsed Cambio jeans and unique gifts galore for the folks back home.

One of the 40-something housewives called Naples "Shopping Heaven," adding, "don't use our names … we're really not desperate housewives!" as they left the Arabesque stationary and gift store on palm tree-lined Fifth Avenue South.

Their shopping bags fluttered in the gentle afternoon breeze as the they strolled among other shoppers in the charming "olde" downtown area. Gushing about their first-time visit, they vowed "We'll be baaack,'' as one housewife adjusted her jaunty navy-trimmed straw hat.

Naples has gorgeous beaches, excellent restaurants and superlative golf courses, but equal lures are its upscale shops, shopping and outlet malls and consignment stores.

It was at a consignment shop when I had my "Holy Grail" moment of shopping when I spotted a cream-colored Chanel boucle jacket. The $300 price tag made my heart flutter: Retail would push it to several thousand. St. John, Escada, Jil Sander, even a few Valentinos — castoffs that qualify as full-blown treasures — filled the shop.

Wearing comfy shoes is a must, because you'll want to spend hours scouring the shops for unique treasures. "Unique" certainly described the toddler-sized pink chiffon swimsuit with matching hat that Kathy LaBlue bought for her granddaughter. Later, as she took a final sip of coffee at McCabe's Irish Pub & Grill, she smiled impishly and whispered the $142 price tag so hubby couldn't hear.

At Marissa Collections on Third Street South (also part of the historic downtown district), Oscar de la Renta, Lanvin, Versace and Valentino enticed, as did the Vera Wang trunk show. I was tempted to slip on a pair of Manolo Blahniks and strut in my best imitation of Sarah Jessica Parker.

Adoration was easy at The Village on Venetian Bay (waterfront shops, galleries and restaurants with brick paths and courtyards) and at the Waterside Shops. Here there are high-end stores that include Tiffany & Co., Hermes, Michael Kors, Cartier and Salvatore Ferragamo.

Shopping can be tiring, and you need your strength, so pull up a seat at Brio Tuscan Grille or BrickTop’s and recharge for round two.

Thus fortified, may I suggest the Coastland Center, with 150-plus stores such as Dillards, Macy's and Victoria's Secret? Or the many bargains to be found at the Naples Outlet Center mall (located between Naples and Marco Island)? Sounds as if those desperate housewives might have a stop or two more before heading home!

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